Vazquez hopes to pitch closer to East Coast
Not because of money. Not to make trouble. Not because he dislikes anything about Arizona except its place on the map.
This, Vazquez told ESPN.com, was just about family.
"That's the whole thing," Vazquez said. "Me and my wife -- we're very family-oriented. That's the way my mom and dad raised me. That's the way her mom and dad raised her. When I played with Montreal and New York and I'd go on a long trip, my wife and kids were able to go home to Puerto Rico to see our family. And vice-versa. When I was home, our family could come and see us.
"But in Arizona, it was tough. The toughest thing was that flight [from Arizona to Puerto Rico], especially with two young kids [ages 1 and 2] who have to move around and can't be still for two seconds. It was a whole-day trip. You leave at 9 [a.m.] and get in at 9-10 o'clock at night, and then have another hour and 20-minute ride to our house. It was just very hard. ... So for me and my family, it would just be easier to be closer to the East Coast."
Because he was traded last January from the Yankees to Arizona while he was in the middle of a multiyear contract, Vazquez had the right to request a trade after playing out his first season with his new team. He can specify six teams to which he doesn't want to be dealt.
The Diamondbacks now have until March 15 to trade him. If they don't, Vazquez either can rescind his request or opt to become a free agent -- which would void the two years and $24 million remaining on his contract.
"This is often referred to as 'demanding' a trade," said Vazquez's agent, Seth Levinson. "But this isn't a demand. It's a respectful request, to be traded to a place that can satisfy his desire to be closer to home."
Arizona GM Josh Byrnes declined comment, other than to acknowledge Vazquez's request. However, the Diamondbacks already had been looking for ways to manufacture more payroll flexibility. So they may not view the opportunity to move a $12-million-a-year player as a negative development.
Vazquez's reasoning sounds almost identical to sentiments he voiced last December after the Yankees tentatively agreed to trade him to the Dodgers. At the time, Vazquez told then-Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta he preferred to stay in the east. So the Dodgers backed off dealing for a player who clearly didn't want to play on the West Coast.
But two weeks later, the Yankees sent him to Arizona as the centerpiece in the Randy Johnson deal. And Vazquez has been wrestling with whether to stick it out or request a trade ever since.
"During the season," he said, "my thought was, 'Well, maybe this can still work out for me to stay. Maybe we can figure something out.' But at the end of the day, it was just too tough for my family for us to stay there. ...
"It was a tough decision," Vazquez said, "because I really enjoyed my time in Arizona. I had a good time with the guys on the team and everyone there. Everybody treated me well -- the fans, the organization, everybody. Just for personal reasons, it would be easier on my family to be closer to the East Coast."
Vazquez said he knows that when people in Arizona hear he has "demanded" a trade, they might misunderstand his reasons.
"But what other reason could I have?" he asked. "This is just what I said last year to the Dodgers. I could have said, 'Give me an extension, give me more money, and I'll stay with you guys.' But I don't want that. I just want to be somewhere that my family is more comfortable."
Even though Vazquez is owed $11.5 million next year and $12.5 million in 2007, the Diamondbacks would be likely to have a long list of potential bidders for a 29-year-old right-hander who has averaged 206 innings a season for the last six years. Among teams that figure to be interested: the Mets, Marlins, Red Sox, Phillies, Blue Jays, Tigers and Cardinals.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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